Grain production at record high
Washington, D.C. – Despite the drought being experienced in the Midwest and Great Plains of the United States, global grain production is expected to reach a record high of 2.4 billion tons in 2012, an increase of 1% from 2011 levels, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project.
The drought is considered the country’s worst in 50 years, coming close to matching the late-1930s Dust Bowl. The drought is expected to cost many billions of dollars and could top the list as one of the most expensive weather-related disasters in U.S. history. The global market will be most affected by this drought, as so much of the developing world relies on U.S. corn and soybean production. Food prices have already begun to increase due to lower yields, and price fluctuations will inevitably affect food security around the globe.
But according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the production of grain for animal feed is growing the fastest – a 2.1% increase from 2011. Grain for direct human consumption grew 1.1% from 2011, write report authors Danielle Nierenberg and Katie Spoden.
In 2011, the amount of grain used for food totaled 571 million tons, with India consuming 89 million tons, China 87 million tons, and the United States 28 million tons, according to the International Grains Council.
The world relies heavily on wheat, maize (corn), and rice for daily sustenance. Of the 50 000 edible plants in the world, these three grains account for two-thirds of global food energy intake. Grains provide the majority of calories in diets worldwide, ranging from a 23% share in the United States to 60% in Asia and 62% in North Africa.
Maize production in the United States – the largest producer – was expected to reach a record 345 million tons in 2012, however, drought in the Great Plains has altered this estimate severely. Maize yields for the 2012-13 growing season are now expected to decrease 13% from 2011 production, for a total production of 274.3 million tons.